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Knowledge and Reflexivity

  • Douglas Odegard (a1)


On First view there seem to be many possible instances of knowers who lack knowledge of their knowledge. A self-deceiver seems capable of knowing his own faults without knowing that he knows them. A philosopher seems capable of knowing that there are physical objects around him without knowing that he has such knowledge. Deep-rooted insecurity seems capable of preventing a mathematician from knowing that he has just made a genuine discovery. A child seems capable of acquiring knowledge before acquiring the concept ‘knowledge’ and hence before being able to know that he knows.



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1 See Radford, Colin, “Knowledge — by examples”, Analysis 27 (1966–7), 111; Arthur C. Danto, “On knowing that we know”, and Lemmon, E. J., “If I know, do I know that I know?”, in Epistemology (ed.) Stroll, Avrum (New York, Harper & Row: 1967); Annis, David, “A note on Lehrer's proof that knowledge entails belief”, Analysis 29 (1968–9), 207–8.

2 See David Rynin, “Knowledge, sensation and certainty”, in Epistemology.

3 See Lehrer, , Knowledge (Oxford, Clarendon Press: 1974), pp. 6971.

4 See Lehrer, Knowledge, pp. 71–2. I've altered the case from one in which the philosopher denies knowledge to one in which he simply disclaims knowing that he knows without disclaiming that he knows. The case Lehrer considers is easier for him to cope with, but he has to come to grips with the one I describe as well.

5 See Lehrer, Knowledge, pp. 61–9, 72–4.

6 See Lehrer, Knowledge, pp. 231–2. Other principles in the book which, if correct, would support the reflexivity of knowledge depend for their support on the arguments I've considered here. See his doxastic and justification iteration principles on pp. 229–30.

7 See Hilpinen, , “Knowing that one knows and the classical definition of knowledge”, Synthese, 21 (1970), 109–32.

8 See Ginet, , “What must be added to knowing to obtain knowing that one knows?”, Synthese, 21 (1970), 163–86.

9 See Ginet, op. cit., pp. 171–80.

10 See Hintikka, , “‘Knowing that one knows’ reviewed”, Synthese 21 (1970), 141–62. See also his earlier Knowledge and Belief (Ithaca, Cornell UP: 1962), pp. 103–25.

11 Popper, Compare Karl, Objective Knowledge (Oxford, Clarendon Press: 1972), pp. 7980, 97.

12 Malcolm, , “Knowledge and belief”, in his Knowledge and Certainty (Englewood Cliffs, Prentice-Hall: 1963), pp. 67–8; originally in Mind, 61 (1952).

Knowledge and Reflexivity

  • Douglas Odegard (a1)


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